Accounting and finance play a crucial role in driving business growth. Thus, even the smallest inaccuracies in the department can lead to various issues and result in significant losses. Unsurprisingly, mistakes and delays are more likely in a work environment run by inefficient processes and systems, which is why it is critical to employ best practices in improving your financial operations.
Tips on How to Improve Financial Processes
An efficient accounting and finance system creates stability and equips your company to thrive in today’s competitive business landscape. Here are some methods to help improve your finance and accounting workflows.
1. Audit your current operations.
First things first: Identify the current problems. Examine your current financial operations to determine the strengths and weaknesses, what needs to be more efficient, and what areas and issues you will focus on first.
You should prioritize the areas that will bring the most significant gains to your company.
2. Invest in and upskill your team to improve performance.
Your accounting and finance team runs the show, so you must ensure that these people are trained and proficient in their roles. You can conduct cross-functional training, seminars, and conferences to upskill your team members and raise operational performance.
3. Reduce and automate manual processes.
Processes and workflows within the accounting and finance department can easily become overwhelming, especially when done manually. Automation is a great way to boost your workflow’s consistency, speed, and accuracy.
The best tasks to automate are the routine ones; ironically, those are the most labor-intensive to accomplish and have the highest risk of error, yet they are the easiest processes to improve. These tasks include purchasing, accounts payable, accounts receivable, invoicing, tax compliance, expense management, and travel requests. Therefore, automation eliminates the bulk of the errors and inaccuracies in the financial workflow while also allowing users to maximize time savings.
4. Address indiscipline.
Policies and procedures are put in place to ensure your accounting and finance operations are compliant with company regulations and standards. When set guidelines are not followed due to indiscipline, the company can lose a lot of time and money.
There are several ways to address indiscipline and improve overall processes, such as enforcing a much more formalized policy for employees to follow when completing tasks. In addition, establish clear, mandatory deadlines to encourage your staff to turn in documents and reports on time. Automated reminders and messaging can also be a great support structure for reminding your employees of cutoff dates.
5. Improve departmental collaboration with integration.
Your accounting and finance team doesn’t work in isolation—they rely on other company divisions for financial documents and data. However, manually requesting data from these divisions can be tedious and time-consuming, slowing down the workflow and potentially causing delays in the overall financial operations.
You can improve collaboration between departments and increase efficiency in plenty of ways, such as a shared system or cloud-based software that integrates all branches of your organization. This integration allows your accounting team to obtain necessary data from other divisions without delay or miscommunication.
Small and medium-sized enterprises may not always have the funds to upskill their current team with training or afford the latest accounting software. If your company struggles with employees, automation, and integration, consider outsourcing accounting and finance. In today’s business environment, you would be surprised by the sheer number of high-growth businesses that have decided to outsource their accounting and finance operations.
Outsourcing services is considered a smart, strategic move for various reasons. Some potential benefits include reduced expenses, access to advanced technology, and increased efficiency. An external accounting and finance team is typically composed of professionals with years of experience in the field, equipped with the latest accounting technology to accomplish their tasks.
Being efficient and accurate is crucial when it comes to your financial operations. One of the best ways to improve the workflow is to take a step back and assess what’s needed, what areas need to be prioritized, and what issues need to be solved. The problems that typically plague the accounting and finance division are tedious, manual processes, lack of compliance with set guidelines and deadlines, and employees who lack the necessary training or knowledge to do their jobs well. Modernizing your business through automation and integration solves nearly all issues related to processes; for talent, however, you may need to invest and upskill your team or choose to outsource. The latter option may seem risky, but many high-growth businesses see it as a smart and strategic move.